COVID-19 in Japan
The U.S. Embassy and consulates continue to monitor COVID-19 conditions in Japan. Several prefectures, including Tokyo, Osaka, Hokkaido, Aichi, Kanagawa, and Chiba, recorded their highest number of new cases this week, and positive case numbers continue to rise across the country. The Government of Japan warned that stringent restrictions on social and economic activities are now warranted in some parts of Hokkaido and that the situations in Tokyo, Osaka, and Aichi are growing close to that of Hokkaido.
In Tokyo, on November 19 Governor Koike raised the city’s COVID-19 alert to the highest level short of a state of emergency, indicating rapidly spreading infection. In Hokkaido, media reports state that hospital capacity is becoming strained . As infection rates continue to rise in Japan, U.S. citizens are strongly encouraged to monitor changes to prefectural government alert statuses, especially when considering travel across prefectures.
The Government of Japan has renewed calls for residents to wear masks and take other common-sense COVID-19 mitigation precautions. In particular, both Prime Minister Suga and Governor Koike urge mask wearing while dining out in restaurants. Diners should only remove their masks for short periods of time to eat or drink, and wear masks while having conversations.
In advance of the holiday season, Governor Koike identified “five keeps” people can follow to minimize COVID-19 exposure risk while dining out or in their homes:
- Keep groups small
- Keep meals short
- Keep voices down
- Keep portions separate
- Keep rooms ventilated and disinfected
U.S. citizens are strongly urged to continue to take personal health measures to protect themselves, including socially distancing, wearing masks, and avoiding crowded areas with poor ventilation. The U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) strongly recommend that U.S. citizens get flu shots to prevent a major flu outbreak. Finally, U.S. citizens should continue to follow measures introduced by local and central government Japanese officials designed to mitigate COVID-19 outbreaks in their areas.
Japanese government travel restrictions remain in place that prevent most U.S. citizens from entering the country. Japan continues to modify its policies to facilitate certain kinds of travel. Recently, the Government of Japan announced new regulations permitting residents of Japan to take short business trips abroad without requiring quarantine upon their return. The rules governing this program are strict, and business travelers should be sure they understand the program before departing the country. For complete information on travel restrictions, as well as requirements for reentry, please consult the Japanese Ministry of Foreign Affairs or the Ministry of Justice.
Travel for tourism and most other short-term purposes is still not permitted, and there is no indication that this will change in the near term.
The U.S. Embassy strongly urges any U.S. citizens considering travel to Japan to review carefully the information available from the Government of Japan. Please note these regulations are subject to change with little notice. The U.S. Embassy’s ability to intervene on behalf of travelers denied boarding at their poing of embarkation or entry into Japan is extremely limited and those travelers denied entry at Japanese ports of entry will likely be immediately reboarded on flights back to the United States.
U.S. military members traveling under the Status of Forces Agreement should consult with their chain of command for the most current requirements pertaining to their entry as United States Forces Japan continues to enforce restrictions associated with a declared Public Health Emergency extended through the end of 2020.
State Department – Consular Affairs 888-407-4747